How to Develop the Conflict in Story Writing


When you write a story like short story, novel or a drama, you need a cause to work on. In a plot that means in a story line there should be a problem or cause to be dealt with or work on – just like our life story, it progresses with problems we encounter. Similarly, a story is also an essence of human experience, isn’t that so? If there is no problem to deal with, the main character in the story cannot progress, that means, if there is no conflict there will not be a story. Suppose in the fairy tale Cinderella, the main character Cinderella could marry her prince charming without any obstacle to deal with, that would not have been a classic hit.

So, in this post we hope to give you some important facts to write a story as a beginner. Here we will be discussing on what a conflict is, what are the classical conflict types and some tips to develop a great conflict.

Conflict is said to be the best friend of a story teller. The stronger the conflict, the stronger will be the story. Conflict is usually woven around the main character. (We hope to do a post on characters soon.) When the main character progresses towards the main goal, (for Cinderella it is going to the Ball) he or she has to face problems, obstacles and hardships which make it hard for the main character to reach the goal easily. Those make the story move forward towards the climax. Climax is the highest point of the conflict which might be the turning point of the story. The turning point decides whether the ending be a happy one or a tragic one. The conflict always helps the plot to progress making the story interesting, suspenseful as well as keep the reader involved in the cause.

The conflict helps to show the character development too. Through the hardships characters’ face, the way they react to them decide what type of character he or she is. Usually the main character overcome the problems and reach their goals with the support of the supporting characters or alone while the villain character becomes darker and loses at the end. This can be upside down and can be twist and turns according to the end the writer expects.  


Types of Conflicts.

When you start writing a story, you should think of a major conflict and other ripple conflicts it may create as a result of the main conflict. There are common classical conflicts we find in most of the stories. They are human vs human, human vs self and human vs nature.


Human vs Human Conflict

This is the most popular method of conflict and the stories based on human vs human conflicts are more popular than others. Here, other human characters or their actions create problems or obstacles to the main character during the progression of the story. For example: in the classic fairy tale Cinderella, her step mother and step sisters make her life miserable and obstruct her way to progress to the Ball. Having a conflict of a story is very common in stories as most stories based on hero vs villain concept. In classic stories, most of the time hero wins the conflict while villain loses.


Human vs Self

A person has visible and invisible personalities according to human psychologists. This conflict occurs inside of human as Sigmund Freud says in his taxonomy of id, ego and super ego. This is the conflict between good and evil inside the person because everybody has goodness and evil inside, due to the social forces, the self can respond in different ways making him or her a hero or a villain. If we take the story of the Joker (the famous Marvel picture) the main character Joker becomes a villain in the Gotham city creating chaos everywhere. The story shows how he suffers due to a neurological illness, which he cannot stop laughing. The negative responses received to him from the society makes him a villain. It should be noted that Joker was a good hearted character at the beginning but after the internal conflict, bad wins over the good making him to select the path of a villain.

Internal conflicts make the story more advanced and sometimes too hard to digest. Therefore, writers use a combination of conflicts in their plots making them more advanced but still digestible. When you become an experienced writer, you will become more confident and experimental to create a fusion using classic conflicts.


Human vs Nature

In the new millennium, with changing geographic and climatic conditions, many writers have opted their focus on writing stories based on human nature conflict. Here, it is usually involved about natural disasters or survival skills in inclement conditions of nature. These conflicts are exciting and many readers fancy to experience adventurous outcomes they produce. However, it is often difficult to write about these at length unless you have expertise or vast detailed knowledge about them.  For an example: the famous movie Interstellar (2014) has become a hit because it goes beyond the time and space in relation to the conflicts between human and nature. If you need another classic example about human nature conflict, Titanic can be taken as a good example too.


Tips on creating conflicts

  • Combine different types of conflicts, may be your characters struggle to survive and fight among themselves.
  • Before you write, know how the problem will be overcome. Don’t write yourself into a dead end.
  • The main character must solve the problem don’t have someone to enter at the last minute.


If you are a newbie writer willing to write a short story, a drama script or a novel, hope these facts would be useful to develop a great conflict. With practice and proper planning, you will be a great writer. Why don’t you share your experiences with regard to writing stories? Please let us know by leaving a comment below. If you find this post is useful, please share it using the social sharing buttons below.    



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